Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Celebrating The Body

The whole group us, Italy June 2010
Hello again! I'm home now from gorgeous Italy and the transition isn't exactly an easy one. Going from the ease and indulgence of an Italian dream to the humidity and responsibility of a New York reality...at the moment, feels pretty rough. The trip was amazing, though (to say the least) and every moment I felt so lucky just to be included. 

Cyprus trees, a lovely element of Tuscany
When John and I arrived in Florence and met up with all 8 of his awesome family members, it really hit us. His board exam was behind us, we were together, and we had finally arrived. Italy, John, my "other family", the best food and drink in the world...need I say more? 

After our first night, we all ventured into the Tuscan countryside. Our destination was Montespertoli, a small town about an hour outside of Florence. There we found our lovely Tuscan farmhouse that we'd call home for the next week. 

Throughout the trip, we travelled to and from gorgeous walled-in medieval villages,  taking in views and sights I've only seen in movies. It was just as I had imagined it, actually: golden hills, farmland, vineyards, olive trees, lighting that could inspire anyone to paint.  The whole group of us spent a day at Certaldo , a city high above Tuscany and the next day at San Gimignano 

Siena's amazing Duomo, storm rolling in
The streets of Certaldo
John and I spent the next couple of days traveling with his grandpa Hank who is undoubtedly the most active and adventurous 80 year-old I'll ever know.  We visited Siena , the city we'd later agree was one of our favorite spots. We were awed by Siena's Duomo and it's unbelievable opulence: the artwork, the mosaics, the busts of every past pope lining the ceiling, the bright frescoes so well-preserved that they could have been painted yesterday. We even climbed the spire of the museum, giving us an unbelievable view of the city and surrounding landscape. This should give you a little hint of how my Spondylitis left me alone over there.

We went back into Florence, too, and experienced it all in a whirlwind. We said hello to David in the morning, crossed the Ponte Vecchio  and the bridge my brother proposed on in the afternoon, and fit everything  we could into the middle. I got closer to John than I've ever been during this trip and, while we've always known we each enjoy traveling, we've never had the chance to really share it. We discovered a mutual passion that I know will only strengthen our relationship in the years to come.

In a country known for its fresh food and wine, its beautiful people, and its extraordinary spirit of indulgence, it's hard to deny yourself the pleasures around you. I admire this beautiful culture and this passion for living. Something happens to you in Italy. There's a reason that some of the greatest masterpieces have come from here; why writers and artists are able to release themselves entirely amidst the backdrop of beauty and history. You start enjoying your body in a whole new way, allowing yourself to let pleasure wash over you. As someone who spends most of her year in pain, this means everything. Italy breathed life into me, reminding me of all the good my body is capable of. Instead of being at odds with my body, I was able to celebrate it. 

 Much to my surprise, my pain really gave me a vacation; it felt almost as if I had borrowed someone else's body for the week. Suddenly I was this person again ready for any adventure, able to climb steep, cobbled hills with the best of em'!  It was an amazing feeling and, while I knew it might not last, I felt so grateful for the relief.

To what do I attribute this change? I think it's simple, really. Love, happiness, great food, a renewed passion for travel...and sheer will. I also took two Humira shots the day before I left, so this probably had something to do with it, but not least of all, it was also Italy's warm, sunny and dry weather. The transition back into the intense New York humidity has been a brutal one (one that's left me in bed) and I'm just hoping I can reach that place again where pain is an after-thought. Whatever it is and will be, I'm so happy to have felt that good in Italy and to have the memories we made.

And now some more photos....
Hanging grapes at a wine tasting
An amazing Tuscan sunset

I love this guy
John & Sara taking a dip



  1. I am sure some of the feeling good has to do with the Mediterranean diet and Italian atmosphere (weather). Some of it of course was your mood and your medication but the diet and atmosphere were helpful. Hopefully, the good feeling stays. Glad to hear you had fun and felt healthy enough to enjoy it.

  2. Yay for feeling good and being able to enjoy the trip. Thanks for sharing some of the photos. It looks like a great time!

  3. i am so glad that you had such a great trip and so very happy to hear that your spondylitis took a vacation of its own! interesting to note how the climate helped. this has been weighing heavily on my mind of where to live next.

  4. what a great post! it really looks like you got the most out of yourself and your surroundings and everything. i have an idea, let's go someplace together! we could start with Rochester hahah

  5. what a beautiful post and experience. today i went raspberry picking--something i wouldn't normally do because i would hurt later. however, it was a beautiful morning and memory to have with my son. you reminded me that if you're going to live then you need to really LIVE. i am a passionate person and have lost that part of me in this past year. i keep trying to respect my body and take care of myself, which is good, but every so often we all just have to have fun...

  6. Betsy,

    Again you have no idea what this means to me. The fact that I could do that for you makes this whole blog adventure worthwhile. You are such a special person ,too, and I hope you know you inspire me right back. Check your e-mail soon, a reply is on its way...